Alex woke up just after sunrise. He gathered his bed roll and cleaned up after himself. He assumed that Kassie was still asleep since he didn’t hear any movement from within the lean to. He was about to walk towards the creek to wash up when The Venerable greeted him.
“Oh, good morning Venerable, you’re up quite early.”
“As are you Alex.”
“I have to confess that I am starving. I wish I had purchased some organic coffee beans yesterday, but I didn’t need them at home since I still had an ample supply. I don’t suppose you have any local coffee here in this fairyland?”
“Sorry Alex, no. That’s another delicacy I’ve had to do without. But I do have a nice variety of herbal teas you might like.”
“Y A W N N N… What’s for breakfast?” a sweet melodic voice chirped forth.
“Ahhh… Good morning young lady. How did you sleep? Comfortably I trust?”
“Yes, thank you Venerable. The accommodations were just fine. After the day we had yesterday, it didn’t take much to make me fall asleep.”
“Well, I can quickly fix a healthy, filling and heart warming breakfast for you in a few minutes. And during that, you can fill me in on just how you two met. Then, I can tell you more about what you need to know about where you are, and the dangers you might encounter.”
As he prepared their breakfast, Alex and Kassie began enjoying the herbal tea The Venerable had prepared for them. As they sat eating their fill, The Venerable inquired again about how they came to be together.
“Why don’t you tell him Kassie? You had a ringside seat.”
So, Kassie recounted the previous day’s events as she witnessed them. The Venerable listened intently, his gaze shifting from Kassie to Alex as the story unfolded. There seemed to be a look of approval on his face.
“So, it seems we have a warrior among us now.”
“Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but I do know a few tricks”, said Alex with all the feigned modesty he could muster.
“Alex, we may need one such as you. We do have certain problems that maybe you can help us solve. Maybe that is why you were selected to be brought here.”
“And why am I here? I don’t belong here at all”, screeched Kassie.
“I don’t know the answer to that, not as yet. We may never know. We only do know that you are here.”
There were a few brief moments of silence as everyone let all this sink in. The Venerable then took center stage again.
“Alex, you are going back to retrieve your goods this morning. There are a few important things you should know. This land is also occupied by strange creatures. For some reason, they don’t actively pursue the indigenous people. The outworlders are another matter, however. These creatures are omnivorous. So, they will tear you to shreds and eat you if they are hungry, or if they just feel like it. For the most part, they are quite hard to kill. But the Overlords have provided us with a protection of sorts. If we draw a “circle” around ourselves, the will not cross that “line”. And no, it doesn’t have to be a perfect circle, can be a fence, a pile of rocks, even just a line in the sand. So, when you are out there, be careful and be wary. For the most part, they do not come to these parts. But occasionally one or more of them do encroach upon us and then they create havoc if not actual death and destruction.”
“Wow, I just can’t wait to meet one of those”, said Alex.
“Another thing Alex, I said our neighbors are basically friendly. But they still have their hunter roots and are distrusting of what or who they do not know. If they think you are a threat, they will confront you. Also, from time to time, we have issues with the tribes that do live a bit further away from us. They are on the other side of those foothills. They sometimes war with our neighbors. And we often suffer the brunt of that as collateral damage, and sometimes from direct assault. So you see, someone with your skills is very sorely needed.”
“Venerable, I had wished you had asked me about my gardening skills. I’m a pretty knowledgeable organic gardener and believe I can be of great use in that regard. I’d hate to think that my only use is because I know how to kill someone.”
“No my son. But all your skills would be very, very welcome. When you return from retrieving your equipment, we’ll discuss your possible future here with us. Afterall, you do have to eat and live somewhere. We can be of service to each other.”
“Sounds like a plan Venerable. Kassie, do you want to come with me to the truck? Or, you can stay here with The Venerable where it will be safer, I guess.”